THE POEM WHERE I SEE A GHOST, BUT DR. PHIL CAN’T
Katie Darby Mullins
    One woman dressed in Victorian clothing,
weeping on the side of my bed. Children
in my backyard, flinging sticks, muffled
shouts. Accented voices down the hall
with champagne corks popping, creating
pockets of sound. No one else was there,
you know. But the contagion of my belief
has always been powerful. Those aren’t

	  the only ghosts. I see shadow
forms constantly. And tonight, I am lying
completely still in bed, watching a rugged
half-man walk through my room, slowly,
examine the fabrics of my hanging clothes,
move through the pill bottles by the bed.
my hair skates past my ear when he gets
close, I’m sure it’s his long, cold fingers,
and I swear I can hear him
whisper, “Shh,”
and my body is rotten with terror. I can’t
breathe. An episode of Dr. Phil blares,

white noise to keep the visions at bay,
and he is shouting at a woman that she
has to look, she has to face her problem,
watch her decaying anorexic sister
talk about drugs on the big TV in front
of her. Or he can’t help. Not if she ignores
the problem. I try to focus on his hands.

	  I shouldn’t have been surprised
when he turned to face me, when he tried
to talk me out of my delusion: “This isn’t real,
Katie,” he is saying, but I know listening
to a TV doctor isn’t more sane than giving
into the muscular anxiety of an ethereal
intruder. I am rigid with cold and I try
to let myself be talked out of living
a waking nightmare, of knowing, against
all odds, that this is it for me. “I don’t see
anything,” he says, and I repeat those words
I don’t see anything inside myself while I watch
the man possess my space. I have always allowed
the unreal to inhabit me, to live in me, to create
shadows on my wall, to reach out from the TV.
I have welcomed this tangled up noise
and drawn it into myself, ghosts like a cloak,
because belief feels better than nothing.

Katie Darby Mullins teaches creative writing at the University of Evansville. In addition to being nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice and being the associate editor of metrical poetry journal Measure, she's been published or has work forthcoming in journals like The Rumpus, Hawaii Pacific Review, BOAAT Press, Harpur Palate, Prime Number, Big Lucks, Pithead Chapel, The Evansville Review, and she was a semifinalist in the Ropewalk Press Fiction Chapbook competition and in the Casey Shay Press poetry chapbook competition.